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Performance Reviews; Do they Fit

August 06, 2010

Sheri Mazurek wrote a thought provoking blog  covering some of the common
negative review experiences, entitled, Why we hate the performance review .
You could probably confirm or add to the list.  The question in this
blog, maybe more of a trial assertion, is this
“What if performance reviews only fit 20% of the environments they are
introduced into, e.g. what if they are the wrong fit 80% of the time?”

Before I dive into this, to give you an idea of how far we’ve gone amuck
with performance reviews, just roll around some of her blog’s keywords
in your brain.  Keywords like: “dread, criticism, discussions turning
into battles, employee comments having little final impact on
ratings or money (sort of the spilt milk effect), and complicated forms
that don’t clearly tie to the employee’s department success.  It does
cause you to pause and wonder “How did this get to be such a
negatively framed experience?” doesn’t it?

Maybe the following warning signs should be attached to
performance reviews:

WARNING:  Only Complete if:
1. The employee is well adjusted and has demonstrated the
emotional resilience to listen to, absorb and profit from feedback.
2. The reviewer is trusted by the employee and perceived as
both accurate and fair.
3. Adequate data has been tracked throughout the review
period to ensure the review will be fact based.
4. The performance review would actually add significant value
to the work process and outcomes within no more than 30 days
5. Both employee and reviewer are committed to the value of
improving performance as the primary reason for a review,
vs. completing a form, qualifying for a raise, avoiding a layoff…

When you read the list, doesn’t it make you think that
maybe performance reviews aren’t for everyone?

I know that the research suggests that not everyone benefits from
setting goals, mostly just the people interested in performance
improvement.  So wouldn’t the same be true for reviews?

If performance reviews are really best suited for a minority of
employees and companies, several questions come to mind:

1. Are you, is the organization you work in, in that minority?
Why?  Why not?

2. Instead of a performance review, what would the majority
 of employees find to be less disruptive and more helpful?
–  A highlights film?
–  A simple list of what works and what doesn’t?
–  30 minutes of recognition for anything they have done that
    created value, capped by an affirmation?
–  What would you add here?  I have some thoughts, maybe next blog,
but meanwhile am curious about what thoughts come to your mind.

 Bottom Line:
Performance reviews are both widely used and widely associated
with negative connotations.  In this blog I cover 5 guidelines that
should be a pre-requisite for conducting performance reviews in
their current state, and propose the consideration that performance
reviews are not well suited to most employees or companies, hence
all the negative associations, and the needed alternatives.

Do Performance Reviews Really Work?
Performance Reviews; Skill, Outcome or Process Review?

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